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Mike Critchley comments

Posted in: China beats Japan in Asian university rankings See in context

I work in the university system here. Monbusho's answer to increasing standards at universities a few years ago? Increase the number of study weeks from 12 to 15. That was it. Basically the same "fix" they are trying in the high school system. "Because more of the same thing that is not working is always a good solution"...said no educator ever.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Posted in: Sea Shepherd to pay $2.55 mil to Japan whalers See in context

Japanese tax payers should send them a thank-you card for paying a share of that money-bleeding industry.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Posted in: Okinawan governor determined to press U.S. to move base off island See in context

If Okinawans as a whole want the bases gone, then all businesses could just boycott doing any business or serving anybody who works directly for the bases, both foreign and local alike. Do that and either the military staffed there will push for relocation...or the locals working there will push back to protect their jobs.

My guess is that we'll never see that happen. As much as people like to moan, they also like to get paid and feed their families. Expect that if the bases and all of the jobs they represent pack up and leave, local Okinawans will change their position on this quick, fast, and in a hurry.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Posted in: Nagano onsen welcomes foreigners with tattoos, as long as they patch ’em up See in context

Or, restated without the spin: "Nagano onsen, as with all other onsen, does not allow bathers with tattoos"

Nothing has changed.

The issue with onsen (and gyms as well) is about whether the ink is visible, not whether it exists. Japanese friends of mine with tats already have to cover them up to gain entry. This is nothing new. That the same idiotic restrictions on even small tattoos apply to foreigners is not news.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Facial recognition system sends warning emails to families of pachinko addicts See in context

Seems like a non-starter to me.

Pachinko manager: So you want us to pay you a ton of money...for a system that will end up costing us business?

Company rep: Ah! Sokkaaaaaaaa. (Air suck) Now that you put it like that. Maichatta naaaaaa.

Pachinko parlors don't give a rat's ptuey if their customers are addicts. On the contrary, encouraging addiction IS their business.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: SDF hopes to attract recruits with cutesy smartphone game See in context

This is not likely to help recruitment. With Abe's administration rushing toward a more aggressive military, Taro-average knows that joining the SDF could likely mean real combat. It's no longer just a regular job. I'd argue that this kind of (sadly, typical in Japan) childish game is likely to be of interest to exactly the kind of people who won't be prepared to join if it means actual combat.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Japanese companies go on spending spree abroad See in context

And it's official. Abe has shot Japan in the collective foot. His master plan of devaluing the yen to support export company growth and increase inflation was with the assumption that companies would just turn all that extra cash they made into increased wages (i.e., loss of profit). But it turns out the companies in question actually understand elementary economics, and so they have invested profits to expand, in this case to the benefit of wage earners abroad. Meanwhile, we pay more taxes, things cost more, and our wages on the international market are about half of what they were two years ago. Abenomics = Epic fail

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Posted in: Japan's looming benefit cuts an unspoken, unsettling election theme See in context

'Abenomics? I want it to stop,' she said.

'..but I'll go ahead and vote him in anyway'...she likely continued.

This is one of those times when a vote for the lame-duck opposition would actually be doing the country a favor.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Nearly 5% of Japanese addicted to gambling – even though it’s still 'illegal' See in context

to warn them of the 'evils of gambling.'

Yeah, that will work as a counter measure. Just like it does with surgeon general's warnings on cigs. Riiiiight.

People with addictive behaviors know the dangers. It doesn't stop them. If Japan seriously wants to help people, then the only way is to go the Korean route and just ban gambling -- or at least Pachi/Slot -- outright.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Posted in: Education minister proposes English education for 3rd grade See in context

@Stephen Knight

don't know what Shimomura's got in his pipe

The same stuff Abe has in his. The stuff that makes people in charge here think that just setting a goal is enough to make it a reality.

Yeah, but I told them to make kids fluent in English. Why isn't my plan working!? I know! Let's hire some retired senior advisors and pay them silly money to see how they used to do it in the "good ol' days."

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Posted in: Abe's support rate at lowest ever See in context

30% of people polled by the Asahi said they felt Abenomics had succeeded

Or, put another way, 30% of those polled do not understand basic economics.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Posted in: Actor Ken Takakura dies at 83 See in context

Very sad news, indeed. He was one of the coolest actors ever to come out of Japan.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan's dated, smoky cafes unfazed by Starbucks success See in context

Interesting title: "Japan's dated, smoky cafes unfazed by Starbucks success"

Incorrect. They weren't unfazed...they were put out of business.

I first got to Japan in '92, long before Starbucks arrived. And all there was back then were these same über-smoky cafes that had no more than three brews, all bad, and all 900yen+. Then Starbucks showed up. A few years later, you could get a cappuccino (not great one, mind you) even in family restaurants. New copy-chains sprung up that embraced the basic reason for Starbucks' success -- more options, faster service, (relatively) cheaper prices, a brighter atmosphere, and appealing to a wider audience with the foofy blended drinks. They all did well.

Meanwhile, the mom and pop coffee shops stuck to their guns that their way was better. It was always on the news about how they were losing customers. And within a few years, they were gone.

I respect this old coffee shop owner for his dedication to his life's work. I'm sure he makes a great cup of coffee. But he's one of the very few who has survived not only Starbucks, but the change in the demands of coffee consumers. But writing that traditional cafes remain unfazed is just so off base, it's ridiculous.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Posted in: Nearly 200 Chinese fishing vessels return to Ogasawaras See in context

Why is there any hesitation at all on this???

Board and seize any non-Japanese registered vessel going anywhere near the reefs. Give the crew a complementary ride home on a cargo ship, and keep their vessel impounded in Japan.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: U.S. general hopes China will avoid regional air encounters See in context

I'm an ANA mileage member with tons of miles -- but when I book I've been using those miles with TG and other Star Alliance partners. Why? Because Abe forced ANA and JAL to stop informing China when entering the air-defence ID zone. I know that the ADID zone is ridiculous, but I'd prefer that commercial carriers that are carrying ME don't play chicken with Chinese fighter jets manned by pilots with itchy trigger fingers.

This new dialogue is good. But in the meantime, we're still at risk of an incident involving a commercial carrier.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Posted in: ASDF member arrested for pushing man onto train tracks See in context

No memory. Never heard that before from a J-perp reported here lol

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Hashimoto, Zaitokukai chairman get into shouting match See in context

Mostly I think Hashimoto is a dick in terms of his political views...but he rocked here. That cockroach Sakurai started off with a hugely disrespectful tone which Hashimoto took in stride...for a few beats until he got up and stood his ground and told him to f-off home.

But why they even gave that chubby mental deficient 1 minute of public attention is beyond me. But as choiwaruoyaji wrote above -- it had great entertainment value! :)

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Posted in: Trade, justice ministers quit as Abe loses 2 of his 5 women ministers See in context

Let's look with equal scrutiny toward some of the old-guard male politicians in government. How many of those guys fall equally far from the justice and ethics tree? Many, I would guess.

I'm not saying that these women shouldn't resign. Misuse of funds is a serious matter. But let's not put too much emphasis on the fact they are women. What's more disturbing is that it's ONLY the women who are getting outed for this stuff. Are the men all innocent? Or do the old guys just have more experience at covering their tracks?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Gov't approves JR Tokai plan to build maglev line See in context

A whopping 5.5 trillion yen spent to shave just 1 hour off an already short trip, and 90% of it going through a tunnel.

There must be a better way to use that kind of money, no?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Posted in: Tokyo pulls plug on late-night Roppongi-Shibuya bus service See in context

JT, you really ought to give Abe and the rest of the powers that be direct subscriptions to this site. When they first proposed this idiotic scheme, every person on this site weighed in, commenting with all these same reasons why it was useless to run a bus in isolation. Although maybe hearing from the (mostly) foreign input on JT it wouldn't help. I mean, they MUST have known this was useless. If not us, somebody MUST have told them it was a bad plan.

I really don't want to believe that politicians are really that stupid and unthinking before wasting taxpayer money. But the evidence is really starting to support that conclusion.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: Nissin Foods to hike prices of 250 products from January See in context

I like how they directly blame the weak yen (read: Abenomics) for this one. Abe has been deflecting the danger of an over-weak yen (look! Gas prices have barely risen!), but there's no hiding from this one.

@smithinJapan

are all these companies going to drop their price increases?

Unlikely. When jet-fuel prices went through the roof a few years ago, Starbucks used that as an excuse to jack up the prices on all their coffee products. Fuel prices dropped; prices didn't.

I'd be willing to bet that a LOT of companies follow suit, raising prices -- regardless of whether they really need to or not -- when they realize that they can increase profits and dump the blame on Abe's doorstep. And prices will stay high regardless of subsequent yen recovery. Meanwhile, back in "Taro Average" Japan, wage increases, when present, don't even come close to covering the sales tax increase. Once again the average working Japanese loses.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Abe presses campaign for meeting with China's Xi See in context

Xi might be too busy at the moment tear gassing students and battling freedom and democracy in Hong Kong to meet Abe. But he probably should make time. If China messes with HK to the point where it severely damages its financial position internationally, China will need all of the rich-kids on the Asian block to be its friendly trade partners.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Posted in: 'Saturday Night Live' cruises into middle age See in context

I love SNL. The only bad thing I could say about it is that it went from being a place where the music was 100% live and awesome, to now, where the pop bands mostly have their recorded song playing and they half lip-sync to it. But I suppose that's more of a problem with today's music industry than SNL.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: OECD says Japan should raise sales tax again next year See in context

the tax rise had hit the economy harder than expected

Really? Not expected by whom? From what I saw, EVERYBODY expected the economy to tank after the last tax increase. It's common sense.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Posted in: Truck driver arrested after hitting group of school children, killing 9-year-old girl See in context

Doesn't matter if a kid unpredictably jumped out or not. It's 100% his fault for not slowing down on a narrow road full of (obviously unpredictable) and helpless kids.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Posted in: Japan, neighbors agree on measures to protect eels See in context

What? Japan isn't going to use the "lethal research eeling" loophole to keep the status quo? ;)

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Posted in: Female bosses not averse to sexual harassment See in context

Sexual and power harassment remain huge problems still in Japan. But you gotta take this article with a grain of salt. If it's from the Shukan Post, then about 80% of the "case examples" where the names have been changed to "Mr. A" etc only ever actually existed in the imagination of the article author trying to meet the deadline.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Posted in: Index ranks Japan as Asia's most efficient innovator See in context

Japan rocks at so many things. They really are great at improving on ideas and taking them to the next level. But efficient? Really? lol

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Posted in: Chiba convenience store robbed of Y1 mil See in context

Both of the local Big As in my area are manned in the wee hours by no more than three older guys, most of whom look in less-than-optimal health. So I doubt they'd resist anybody threatening them harm. Yeah, they probably could resist a guy with a cutter knife...or just laugh in his face and until he left in shame. But why take the risk?

It's up to Big A to beef up security and protect their workers, not the other way around.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan's bid for economy driven by women faces big hurdles See in context

If you try to achieve numerical targets by any means, it could bring about a skewed situation such as lenient performance assessments for women, she said. What is important is giving equal job opportunities to both men and women.

One of the benefits of putting women in positions of power is that they have voice in the media. And hers is a voice of reason: The focus shouldn't be on putting X number of women in the work force. It should be on reshaping the workforce and work expectations, removing barriers for example that stand in the way of working mothers, so that the best PERSON of any gender lands the job.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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